How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

Definition of Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation is a document that is a review of a job seeker by a former manager or employee from a professional point of view. A letter of recommendation contains a brief description of the professional skills and achievements of a person, his or her main successes during studies or work, and strengths.

how to write a letter of recommendation

With the help of a recommendation, an employer can see a clearer picture of a candidate’s professional activity. They can find out about the person as an employee from people who have worked with him or her. A letter of recommendation is not required by all employers, but when looking for a new job, it is better to take care of its availability and, like a cover letter, attach it to your CV – this will give greater solidity to the person’s candidacy.

For a university graduate or a person without work experience, a teacher, head of department, or a dean of a faculty can give recommendation; for a person with work experience, his or her supervisor, the director of the organization, or a colleague (with a higher position) in a previous workplace can give recommendation.

How to Make a Recommendation Letter in 8 Steps

How to do a recommendation letter? Making a letter of recommendation is carried out according to the general structure of a business letter.

  1. First, specify the title of the document.
  2. After that, you can specify the appeal if a letter of recommendation from work is made to a specific employer. An appeal can be used if it is made for any potential employer.
  3. Include information about where and when the applicant worked (studied), who he or she was to the recommender. For example, if the recommender is the supervisor, you can specify: “Mr. Smith worked in the company ‘Lavender’ under my leadership from May 12, 2017 to August 10, 2018.” And if it is a colleague, you can specify: “I collaborated with Mr. Smith from May 12, 2017 to August 10, 2018.”
  4. Then talk about the positions held, functional responsibilities, professional skills, achievements and successes, and personal qualities of the applicant.
  5. In the letter of recommendation, you can also specify the reason for leaving the previous company.
  6. In the next part of the letter, the recommendations and wishes of the referee are presented. An example of the text of the letter of recommendation would be as follows: “Mr. Smith’s professionalism allows him to be recommended for further work in a similar position. I hope that the acquired knowledge and skills in our company will allow Mr. Smith to be a sought-after employee. I wish him continued success and prosperity in creative activity.”
  7. At the end, sign the letter with your position, last name, first name, contact phone, and the date of the document.
  8. This letter should be certified by the signature of the head of the company or HR department and the seal of the company.

Recommendation Letter Sample

Below you can find a sample of a recommendation letter. It will give you an idea of how to write a good letter of recommendation. This example was written according to the rules and standards, and you can use it without any hesitation as a template for your own writing. Use it to write an effective recommendation letter.

Click on the image to see its full size.

how to write a letter of recommendation

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

How to request a letter of recommendation? If you leave work, do not forget to ask for a letter of recommendation. A written recommendation can help you more as a job seeker than a recommendation received by a potential employer by telephone. Firstly, you know in advance what is written in it. Secondly, as a rule, the former employer will present you in a letter much better than explaining how he or she thinks about you – especially if you are dismissed due to the company restructuring, or you leave yourself, but you are such a good employee that the employer wants to stay in good standing with you.

If you are parting in poor relations, and either you were fired or your boss is angry at you because you are leaving the company, do everything possible to get a decent letter of recommendation. In this case, a written recommendation is much better, because you do not want to take risks and rely on what the former boss can say about you to a potential employer by phone when he or she decides to ask for a recommendation.

When receiving a letter of recommendation, it is possible that the employer will not check its accuracy – they are either too busy, or they are too lazy, or they do not think it is important. Most likely, with such a letter in your hands, you will look like an ideal candidate, regardless of whether you were brilliant at the previous work or not.

  • Whom to ask

The letter must be on the company’s letterhead from the person who works there. Try to get a letter of recommendation from people who know you well. It is even better if they like the way you work. For a letter to have value, ask for recommendations from someone higher than you in rank, such as from your superior. Additionally, you can get the recommendations of other members of the management team, and in extreme cases, from your colleagues.

  • How to ask

Always ask for a written letter of recommendation in person. Do not do this by phone or email – this request is easy to forget or ignore. While in a personal conversation, you are unlikely to be refused, especially if the company does not want to part with you.

  • When to ask

Ask for written letters of recommendation in advance. Do not delay it until the last day at the office. Perhaps you should suggest drafting a letter yourself. Thus, you will not only get a good and profitable letter for yourself, but also save your employer’s time.

  • In store

You never know how many jobs you will have to change in the course of your career, so make a portfolio of recommendation letters and keep them safe. If you lose them, it will be almost impossible to recover everything – hardly anyone remembers what he or she wrote about you, even if you can find the person who gave you the recommendation. You can indicate the availability of recommendations in the CV and present them at a personal interview with the employer.

Before leaving the company for another job, try to enlist a letter of recommendation from your employer. If the letter is well written and you are presented from a favorable side, you will have a great advantage over other candidates for the position you are looking for.

how to ask for a letter of recommendation

How to Format a Letter of Recommendation

How to write a professional letter of recommendation in the proper format? This document is recommended to be drawn up based on generally accepted rules for writing business letters, and this paper is for informational purposes only. Let’s list a number of rules of the format for writing a letter of recommendation:

  • Adhere to the business style.
  • Use the appeal to the person properly.
  • Abstain from expressive means and literary devices.
  • Include the signature of the person who has written the letter.
  • Include the name of the person who have written the letter.

How to Write a Recommendation Letter for an Employee – Main Rules

How to write a great letter of recommendation for an employee? The following basic rules should be kept in mind when writing a recommendation letter:

  1. The text of the letter of recommendation should be written exclusively in business style. It should not include metaphors and other expressive means and stylistic devices.
  2. For recommendations, the standard letter format is used.
  3. The text begins with an official business appeal, for example, “Dear Norman.”
  4. Try to make the text clear and precise, and avoid ambiguity. Instead of the vague phrase, “The employee has the necessary qualifications,” list specific skills that make the candidate a good choice for this job.
  5. The letter should fit on one page of printed text. A longer text is unlikely to be read carefully. But one should not be limited to one or two lines: a candidate whose merits can be described so briefly will hardly seem like a good choice.
  6. At the end, you need to specify the employer’s contacts (phone number, email).
  7. At the first mention of the recommended employee, it is better to indicate his or her full name and surname. Then you can write only the first name or only the last name, but it is important to observe this formality.
  8. Concrete examples of the employee’s success will look more convincing. For example, you can indicate that thanks to his or her negotiation skills, it was possible to achieve a 10% discount from suppliers.
  9. You need to write a letter of recommendation on the official letterhead of the company.

Is an Employer Required to Compose a Letter of Recommendation?

There is no rule that company managers are obliged to compose this document for their former employees. Therefore, the employers themselves decide on the need for a recommendation letter. This is not their responsibility.

Often the workers themselves ask former managers for the formation of documentation. If good relations between people are maintained, then the manager usually agrees to draw up a document, for which he or she studies the examples of letters of recommendation in advance. The sample allows you to maintain the correct structure and include the necessary information in the letter.

How to Write a Recommendation Letter for a Job – Content

It also indicates the reasons for which the applicant left the previous place of work. You can finish the main part by expressing your subjective assessment. This will emphasize the veracity of the entire text. In addition, the contact details of the company giving the recommendation must be indicated.

The letter of recommendation for a job includes the following items:

– title
– recommender’s information
– information of the candidate
– job description
– a list of the most important achievements in the former place of work
– personal characteristics of the candidate
– reasons for leaving the previous job
– date of the letter
– manager’s signature

What Mistakes to Avoid in Writing a Recommendation Letter

When drafting a document, managers of different companies often make serious mistakes, so to prevent them, you should carefully study the example of a letter of recommendation that we have presented above. An incorrectly compiled recommendation letter can harm the candidate; therefore, it is important to responsibly approach its creation. The following errors are not allowed:

– the use of pens of different colors
– the use of diagrams or drawings
– the use of a regular sheet instead of the company’s letterhead
– the presence of numerous stylistic means and literary devices
– mistakes in words
– excessive exaggeration of the positive characteristics of the employee

If a worker is greatly praised in the text, then such a letter causes suspicion and doubt in the future employer.

how to start a letter of recommendation

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation for a Student

Teachers, deans, or rectors often think of making recommendation letters for gifted and intelligent students. Thanks to this document, a former student can count on a truly prestigious and highly paid job, corresponding to his or her specialty and skills. When drafting a document, it is advisable to use an example of a letter of recommendation from a teacher to include all the necessary data. At the same time, the following advice should be taken into account:

  • The document should clearly state what skills the young specialist has.
  • It is desirable to indicate information that can really be useful to the future employer.
  • The document should be prepared by a person who is able to give an objective assessment of the student’s abilities and knowledge.

Read the full guide on how to write a recommendation letter for a student.

Letters of recommendation can be compiled easily if you use the presented guide. Before you start working on your letter, it is desirable to read through the samples presented on our blog. Examples of recommendation letters may give you an idea how to structure your own letter in the proper way. You can also find many other samples and guides for writing other types of letters.